Need a new beginning? 5 tips to get you started

New beginnings are a wonderful thing.

The feeling of a crisp new start. Motivation and opportunity are there to do something different, better, more effectively. Loose weight, get more exercise, conquer the inbox, leave work on time, and spend more time with your family ….

I remember how in school I loved the start of a new school year. New books, new subjects, new notebooks (where I’d use my best and clearest handwriting at least for the first couple of weeks). Promises of a new fresh year where new wonderful opportunities seemed sure to come up.

Most of us instinctively feel that New Year is an auspicious time for starting something new: a new habit, getting a grip on things that have slipped, taking charge… Sadly, it seems that New Year is not really the best time to start afresh, as our New Year resolutions all but too often fizzle out even before the end of January. I’m sure this has to do with the time of year. January is dark and cold and somehow we need all our resolve just to stumble along as our “normal” selves.

Why not let the energy of summer and summer holiday help you along?

Do you want to maintain your healthy summer diet with more vegetables and fruits? Or would you like to shed the extra kilos from the holiday ice creams and cool drinks on the terrace? Are you determined this year to conquer your inbox and make sure you leave the office at a reasonable time every day? Or is this the time to clear out your office – or house – and make sure that it stays organized and attractive?

Whatever you feel you need the most, NOW is a good time to start.

Follow these 5 steps and you will be off to a good start:

  1. Make just one change at a time
    All too often we want to change too much at once and then we get overwhelmed and loose energy. Don’t complicate things – keep it simple!
  2. Start small – and guarantee success
    Most of us work best with incremental changes. Don’t suddenly plan to run a marathon – plan something that is small enough that you are guaranteed success from the beginning. Then plan to incrementally expand the change until you’re ready for the marathon (if that’s your thing!).
  3. Mark your progress
    Get a wall calendar and every day you follow your new habit (run 2 km, clear your desk before you leave the office, eat fruit for desert) put a big red cross on the day. Quickly you will have a nice chain of red crosses, and you won’t like to break that chain.
  4. Celebrate
    Every week, look back at the week that’s passed and make sure you acknowledge how well you’re doing. Maybe you deserve a little reward? (And no, you should probably not use cake as reward. But maybe a magazine? That extra good coffee – or new running shoes?)
  5. Get help
    It’s so much easier to get to the gym if I know my friend is waiting there for me. Find a friend that will want to share in your new healthier eating habits or track his or her running with you. Or a buddy that will come by your office in the afternoon and say: “I cleared my desk and made my to-do list for tomorrow – now I’m heading home. How about you?”.

What small improvement would you like to make in your life? What is keeping you from starting TODAY?